I am always frustrated by being locked in a walled garden. And in the case of software it’s not even a garden, it’s a mud pool they’ve got you in. Here’s a list of lock-ins that I suffer from personally. What’s yours?
- Flickr. This is the most annoying one. Sign up for a free account and nowhere does it say in a large font ‘you can only see your last 200 pictures at a time. The rest is burried’. Then there is no global export, yes you can download your pictures one by one, but then you lose all tags and description (and any other metadata changes you made). Oh there’s an API? Yes, but it only works on those 200 pictures…. So you need to upgrade to a pro account in order to get it all in order to close your account. Zero points, Nul punten, Nul Punkte.
- Google. OK, Google anal-ytics supposedly will be coming up with some major changes soon, but all I hear is features, features, features. Not: download all your data, or get it sent on a DVD, whatever… And a while ago someone found out (I lost the link) that the ‘export’ only showed the data on the page, not the full list, a feature that was quietly dropped… It has now been re-introduced by the way, someone important must have complained. One point, een punt, Ein Punkt.
- Windows Media Player. When I ripped my music collection (and I don’t mean that literally) using WMP it saved it all in WMA format. I didn’t mind, I listened to it on my PC. Then I wanted to listen to it in the car, requiring MP3. WMP can actually convert a song to MP3, but only when you save it to an MP3 player… Odd… So I first have to save it to my phone, to be able to copy it back and burn it on CD.
There’s probably more, but that’s it for now. These are all great programs with lots of features I like, nothing bad there. It’s time for a revolution in export, backup and API functions. We own our data, it’s ours, or not?
Did you ever search the web for older software only to find that on the official site there was only the latest and ‘greatest’ version available? I tried that today with Adobe. And I came up empty handed… I saw the downloads on some other websites, but I didn’t know if I could trust them since they weren’t affiliated with Adobe.
But then I found out they have an open ftp server. In the old days ftp was used much more than today, but the real die hards keep up the practice of serving big downloads through the FTP server instead of some web page.
So to get any older version of Adobe software, such as Photoshop 7, Illustrator 10, Creative Suite CS2, etc, just point your browser or FTP program to ftp://ftp.adobe.com/pub/adobe/ and start your download engines.
Someone should put up a list of these servers, since they can be mighty helpful. Oh, just did a search and came up with oldversion.com. That’s quite limited though, just a handful of software versions. Perhaps we can get a microformat for it.
Oh and if you’re looking for legally obtained free software check out this video.
This is a good overview of several services that monitor your website(s). Montastic is not in the list, but I’ve had enough problems with that one. My self-written script is still the best, since it’s really really free.